HOLLYWOOD—A mainstay of 30 pounds in 30 days is eating only fruit before noon and having a big ole salad when you dine on meat or beans later in the day.  It can’t be simpler than that.

At the heart of this lies the concept of eating light to heavy. Fruit is considered light because it is quick digesting. Cheese is heavy—hard cheese is heaviest of foods, taking from four to five hours to digest. The light to heavy mantra is reflected in both the whole day–starting off with quick digesting fruits—and individual meals: lunch and dinner start with salad and proceed to the heavier course.

The point is this: speedy digestion equals more energy and vigor. Eat light and you will be ready for study, laughter, labor, dancing and romancing.  Start your day with the gamut of fruit, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, grapes, apples and stuff that remains charmingly seasonal—cherries, mangos, figs. Breakfast and snack on these. Religiously.

True, you can eat pretty much as much as you like of certain foods—namely fruits and veggies—this was the gift I got from Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, authors of Fit for Life, a book very influential in my dietary awakening. (Now even Weight Watchers, has recently removed any ‘strikes’ associated with fruits and veggies.)

That said, these comments are tailored for those who want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. So consider this–you don’t need a lot of choices to be happy, quite the contrary. If you have a passion for simple living, you can limit your kind of fruit to maybe three in your well-stocked fruit bowl.  In 30 pounds in 30 days, generally stick to one kind of fruit per meal/snack. It’s easy on the shopping and on digestion. And I’m telling you straight-up what’s worked for me.

The beauty of fruit is reduced digestion time of about 20 to 30 minutes on average. It zips through the stomach, and is high in water content, supporting our preference to have beverages only before or after mealtimes—not during. Watermelon takes about 20 minutes to digest; after chewing and saliva, it’s practically digested when it hits the stomach. In contrast, bananas, a fruit slower in digesting, takes around 45 minutes to exit the stomach.

On the 30-pound plan, when you have meals in the afternoon the main course will be meat OR beans (note: Not meat and beans.)  Just as you are advised to choose one kind of fruit in the morning, for other meals choose one main course–meat (from land or sea) or beans or eggs–and it is essential that it be accompanied by a heaping salad. Eat the salad first, because of its cleansing qualities and faster digestion time. Let it zip through the body while the heavier dish lags behind.

As a side, enjoy cooked veggies or vegetable soup. Now and again you might get daring and have a 100% veggie meal: a green salad, say, and a plate of steamed broccoli and carrots. And let the light to heavy rule prevail: raw vegetables before cooked.

Overall, look at the veggies and salads as the solvent and glass of water you’re not having with the meal. That’s the simplest way. In regard to digestion time: meat and beans are slow digesting, while fruits and greens are fast digesting.  (Fish is the lightest meat, taking around 45 minutes, pork takes five hours. Wow!)  Beans require around an hour and a half to leave the stomach. Vegetables are in the middle range when it comes to digestion speed. (Salad vegetables take around 30 minutes, cooked veggies around 45 minutes.)

Be guided throughout the day by the light to heavy principle. Remember fruit before noon. And later in the day, salad and cooked veggies go before the heavier course.

This embrace of fruits and veggies will also be guided by your template of set meal and snack times. Remember stick to mealtimes, eating then and only then, and zealously respect the periods of non-eating. A comedian, Lawrence Epstein, who has dealt with mastering weight, has astutely observed that when cooking he found himself nibbling on this or that ingredient, as he was in the kitchen putting a meal together. It’s one of those habits that is funny, but true. And if you expect to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, you’ve got to eliminate the half-conscious nibbling and save the hunger for mealtime.

Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on Kindle.  He can be reached at grady.miller@canyon-news.com.

By Grady Miller